payment apps

If you’ve become comfortable using and viewing your credit card app and banking app on your smart phone, a logical next step is to consider downloading a payment and money transfer app on to your phone as well.

These apps, when managed properly, provide a quick and convenient way to avoid using credit cards and cash pretty much anywhere you go.

You’ve probably seen the PayPal payment option on many online commerce sites, from small bookstores to mega-retailers like Walmart and Home Depot. Did you know there are many similar services that enable contactless payments and money transfers, both domestically and internationally? Payment apps make it easy to shop in the physical stores using your smartphone, without the need to pull out your credit card. To use them, you’ll need to register an account, download the app and login.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is paypal-image.jpgPayPal is well-known in the world of digital payments. Once you have signed up for an account, you can choose to link a bank account, debit cards or credit cards to this “digital wallet” to either pay directly, or add funds to a PayPal balance. To send money to someone, you will need to search for their email address or name, and then complete the transfer in a few clicks.

Sending money domestically to friends and family via a PayPal balance or linked bank account is free. Doing the same by using a credit card, debit card or PayPal credit card costs 2.9% of the amount, plus a fixed fee of 30 cents per transaction.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is venmo-image.jpgLink your bank account or debit card to the Venmo app and easily transfer money to friends, family and others. Meant for transactions between people who know each other personally, you can avoid writing a check for that shared birthday gift or splitting a restaurant tab with cash. It even has a fun feature called a “feed” where you can leave comments about a transaction, similar to a social media platform. Transactions are free when you send money directly from your bank account.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is zelle.jpgA payment application offered by some 30 major U.S. banks, Zelle is integrated into the mobile banking apps of Bank of America, Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo, among others. Unlike Venmo, Zelle allows money to be moved directly from one bank account to another, using the email address or phone number of the recipient. Zelle will send them a text or email indicating a payment is waiting for them, along with a link to accept it. The recipient must register with Zelle before accepting the money transfer.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is apple-pay.jpgApple Pay and it’s Android equivalent Google Pay are both digital wallets that work similarly to other services. You can make purchases and also transfer funds to other people. You’ll need to link a bank account, debit or credit cards before making purchases. Then, bring up the app of your choice – either the Apple Pay or the Google Pay – on your phone and tap the payment button to pay at store registers that accept these services by placing your phone next to the payment device.

Digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay have additional perks – you can link your loyalty memberships from places like Panera Bread, Walgreens, Starbucks and others, and automatically collect rewards every time you spend at one of those partners.

There are many helpful payment services available today, but it is always a good idea to set up multifactor authentication when it is available – to protect your account from fraudulent access. This will allow the service to confirm your identity by sending you a text message or an email with a code to use at login.

Always check that your privacy settings are up to date and that you’re comfortable with the level of visibility you have. Keep both your phone and your apps updated. And periodically search online for payment app scams to learn the latest tricks scammers are using to cheat people.

First and foremost, keep yourself safe in the world of digital money transfers.

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